My Favorite Moments in the Best Picture Nominees: Fences

This has become an annual tradition the day before the Oscars. In order move away all the subjectivity and negativity that happens when figuring out what should win and what’s going to win (especially this year, where the backlash is in full effect), I get away from all of that stuff and celebrate the films that are nominated for Best Picture.

We take this day to look at them as masterworks of cinema and not as films competing for a trophy. All of that other stuff — the analysis, the opinions — that’s all done with. Today, we take a minute, we stop, and we appreciate the films themselves. I count down my five favorite moments (or elements) of each of them.

When you take away all the awards, all the competition, and all the arbitrary decisions about what film is better than the others, what we’re left with is great cinema. That’s what we’re celebrating.

Our next nominee is Fences.




“I don’t see why Mama want a fence around the yard noways.”

“Damn if I know either. I don’t know what the hell she keeping out with it. She ain’t got nothing nobody want.”

“Some people build fences to keep people out and other people build fences to keep people in. Rose wants to hold on to you all. She loves you.”

“Hell, nigga, I don’t need nobody to tell me my wife loves me. Cory, go in the house and see if you can find that other saw.

“Where’s it at?”

“I said find it! Look for it ’til you find it! … What’s that supposed to mean? Wanna keep us in?”

“Troy, I done known you seem like damn near my whole life. You and Rose both. I know both of y’all for a long time. I remember when you met Rose. When you was hitting them baseballs out the park. A lot of them old gals was after you then. You had the pick of the litter. When you picked Rose, I was happy for you. That was the first time I knew you had any sense. I said, ‘My man Troy knows what he’s doing. I’m gonna follow this nigga. He might take me somewhere’. I been following you too. I done learned a whole heap of things about life watching you. I done learned how to tell where the shit lies. How to tell it from the alfalfa. You done learned me a lot of things. You showed me how to not make the same mistakes. To take life as it comes along, keep putting one foot in front of the other. Rose a good woman, Troy.”

“I know she a good woman. I been married to her for eighteen years. What you got on your mind, Bono?

“I just say she a good woman. Like I say anything. I ain’t got to have nothing on my mind.”

“You just gonna say she a good woman and leave it hanging out there like that? Why you telling me she a good woman?”

“She loves you, Troy. Rose loves you.”

“You saying I don’t measure up. That’s what you trying to say. I don’t measure up ’cause I’m seeing this other gal. I know what you trying to say.”

“I know what Rose means to you, Troy. I’m just trying to say I don’t want to see you mess up.”

“Yeah, I appreciate that, Bono. If you was messing around on Lucille I’d be telling you the same thing.”

“That’s all I got to say. I just say that because I love you both.”



“Can I ask you a question?”

“The hell you got to ask me? Mr. Stawicki the one you got the questions for.”

“How come you ain’t never liked me?”

“Like you? Who the hell says I got to like you? What law is there say I got to like you? Wanna stand up in front of my face and ask a damn fool ass question like that. Talkin’ ’bout liking somebody. Come here, boy, when I talk to you. Straighten up, goddamnit. I asked you a question. What law is there say I got to like you?”


“All right, then. Don’t you eat every day? Answer me when I talk to you. Don’t eat every day?”


“Nigga, as long as you in my house, you put a ‘sir’ on the end of it when you talk to me.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You eat every day.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Got a roof over your head.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Got clothes on your back?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Why you think that is?”

“‘Cause of you.”

“Hell, I know it’s ’cause of me. But why do you think that is?”

“Because you like me?”

“Like you… I got out of here every morning, I bust my butt putting up with them crackers every day, ’cause I like you. You about the biggest fool I ever saw. It’s my job. It’s my responsibility. A man is supposed to take care of his family. You live in my house, fill your belly with my food, put your behind on my bed, ’cause you’re my son. Not because I like you because it’s my duty to take care of you. I owe my responsibility to you. Now let’s get this straight right here and now before I got along any further. I ain’t got to like you. Mr. Rand don’t give me my money come payday because he like me. He give it to me ’cause he owe me. Now I done give you everything I got to give you. I give you your life! Me and your momma worked that out between us and liking your black ass wasn’t part of the bargain. Now don’t you go through life worrying about whether somebody like you or not. You best be making sure they’re doing right by you. You understand what I’m saying?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then get the hell out of my face and get on down to that A&P!”



“Everything that boy do, he do for you. He wants you to say, ‘Good job, son.’ That’s all.”

“I ain’t got time for that, Rose. He’s alive. He’s healthy. He’s got to make his own way. I made mine. Ain’t nobody gonna hold his hand when he get out there in that world.”

“Times have changed, Troy. People change. The world changing and you can’t even see it.”

“Woman, I do the best I can do. I come in here every Friday. I carry a sack of potatoes and a bucket of lard. You all line up at the door with your hands out. I give you the lint from my pockets. I give you my sweat and my blood. I ain’t got no tears. I done spent them. We go upstairs in that room at night, I fall down on you and try to blast a hole into forever. I get up Monday morning, find my lunch on the table, go out, make my way. Find my strength to get me through to the next Friday. That’s all I got, Rose. All I got to give. I can’t give nothing else!”



“You should have held me tight. You should have grabbed me and held on.”

“I stood on first base for eighteen years and I thought, “Well, goddamn it, go on for it!”

“We ain’t talking about baseball! We talking about you going off and laying with another woman and bringing it home to me. That’s what we talking about. We ain’t talking about no baseball.”

“Rose, you’re not listening to me. I’m trying to explain it to you the best way I know how. It’s not easy for me to admit that I been standing in the same place for eighteen years.”

“Well I been standing with you! I been right here with you, Troy. I got a life too. I gave eighteen years of my life to stand in the same spot as you. Don’t you think I ever wanted other things? Don’t you think I had dreams and hopes? What about my life? What about me? Don’t you think it ever crossed my mind to want to know other men? That I wanted to lay up somewhere and forget about my responsibilities? That I wanted someone to make me laugh so I could feel good? You not the only one who’s got wants and needs. But I held on to you, Troy. I took all my feelings, my wants and needs, and dreams, and I buried them inside you. I planted a seed and watched and prayed over it. I planted myself inside you and waited to bloom. It ain’t take me no eighteen years to find out the soil was hard and rocky and it wasn’t never gonna bloom. But I held on to you, Troy. I held you tighter. You was my husband. I owed you everything I had. Every part of me I could find to give you. And upstairs in that bedroom, with the darkness falling in on me, I gave everything I had to try and erase the doubt that you wasn’t the finest man in the world, and wherever you was going, I was gonna be there with you because you was my husband. ’Cause that’s the only way I was gonna survive as your wife. You always talking about what you give and what you don’t have to give. But you take too, Troy. You take, and don’t even know nobody’s giving!”



“All right, Mr. Death. I tell you what Imma do. I’m gonna take and build me a fence around this yard. See? I’m gonna build me a fence around what belongs to me, and then I want you to stay on the other side. You stay over there until you’re ready for me, then you come on. Bring your army, bring your sickle, bring your wrestling clothes. I ain’t gonna fall down on my vigilance this time. You ain’t gonna sneak up on me no more. When you ready for me, when the top of your list say Troy Maxson, then you come up and knock on the front door. Ain’t nobody else got nothing to do with this! This between you and me! Man to man! You stay on the other side of that fence ’til you’re ready for me! Then you come up and and you knock on the front door anytime you want! I’ll be ready for you.”

– – – – – – – – – –

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